Iceberg Right Ahead…The Titanic Exhibit in Orlando
Yes, I was one of “those” people. In 1998, I went and saw the movie “Titanic” 10 times in the Theater. I was so moved by the story, by the imagery, and especially the soundtrack that I couldn’t get enough of it. I was so moved by these actual events, that when I heard about the Orlando “Titanic” exhibit, I knew we must go during our vacation. We would have our own car to drive and find it, where normally we were stuck on Disney property. Without a GPS, mind you, we found the exhibit after we had spent a great day at Sea World.
As we entered the building, Captain Smith was hanging out in the Lobby. We had apparently hit the dead time of day, as there was NOONE around but us. We bought our tickets and took a stroll outside of the exhibit to line up at another entrance for the tour. Since we were the only ones there, Captain Smith tagged along with us, telling us some of the most amazing stories. He was one of the fortunate people to have actually been on a trip down to the real Titanic at the bottom of the ocean. He said they had him write his name on a Styrofoam cup, and then watch what happened to the cup as they descended. He took the cup out of his pocket, and it was about 2 inches tall. The water pressure outside the cabin had shrunk the cup (which the cup was also outside) that much… it was quite amazing. We also talked about our faith, and how faith got him through that journey to the bottom to see the ship- it was such an incredible conversation. By the time the tour was to start, we were almost disappointed we had to leave our new friend. We felt we had met an angel- he gave you that kind of feeling. As we said our goodbyes, we entered the building, excited to enter the world I had dreamed about since 1998.
We had a small group of people that were led by a fellow in steerage clothing, explaining to us the sheer size, weight, etc.. of the ship of dreams. Standing on the loading dock, with our tickets in hand- oh yes, we can’t board without our tickets. Each person gets a ticket with the name of a real Titanic passenger printed on it, which is not only for boarding, but for another reason later on. They have recreated the loading area so that it seems you are really going on the ship, while above you the first class passengers were boarding on their deck as well.
I loved the tour itself- they would rotate out a Titanic Character every couple of rooms and also gave us a break to look around for ourselves. My favorite break would be in the main room with the treasures and artifacts. After soaking it all in, you could walk through the full scale Verandah Café and then out to the room of all rooms.
I had dreamt about this room so many nights… the romance of the Grand Staircase. When I turned the corner to see this room, I nearly fainted. I wanted to run to it and stand on it… to just breathe in the experience. Noone was with me at first when I was In there… it was terribly pathetic how much I wanted to stay in this room forever. As I stood there and stared, the background music played “My Heart Will Go On” the piano version. They had the staircase roped off, but I was so tempted to jump over it. My fear is that they had some type of security that would jump me the minute I stepped over the rope, so I stayed on the sad side and just sighed.
Want to know how cold the water was that fateful night? They actually had a piece of ice in one of the rooms that you can leave you hand on to see how long you can stand it. Now imagine your entire body being in that cold water- literally chilling. A fun silly fact about me- I sleep with a cold pack every night. My pillows get so warm that I can’t stand it, so the cold pack balances things out. So when it was my turn to put my hand on the ice berg, let’s just say I lasted the longest.
Walking out onto the Promenade Deck, they have mirrors to make it look like the length of the ship, even though it’s maybe only a few benches and feet. The air is very cold and they have made a sky filled with star constellations that they would have seen that night. As my family moved on to the next area, I stayed behind for a moment of silence. All at once it was like the movie faded away and reality settled in. They had a recording playing of fathers saying goodbye to their children, families weeping, people screaming of what was to come. My heart sank and the tears began to flow… all I kep t thinking was how horrible that night must have been and how I could never say goodbye to my family like that. Give each area the chance to sink in, it’s quite the emotional and peaceful place to experience.
At the end of the tour, a wall of names is listed. We were able find each of our names, and to see if we made it or not. 2 of us lived, 2 of us perished. Thankfully not is all lost and sad, for on the way out you get to see props from the movie, which is what got me interested in the first place. I felt the tour was definitely worth it, and a fun alternative for something different than Disney, Universal, or Sea World. It only took a couple of hours, and we had fit it in with a full day of Sea World.
The exhibit still stands in Orlando today- Click here for information on tickets, hours, and special events- http://titanictheexperience.com/
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